Travellers' Impressions
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Walking on Ice, The Columbia Icefield

We'd got used to the mountains, snow-capped since this was September, with the sun creating interesting shadows. Also the lakes and rivers with turquoise water due to the mineral deposits were no longer a surprise. But the trip up to the Columbia Icefield on the snow bus was an experience.

The huge lumbering vehicle crawled over the ice. The wheels were massive, the speed slow and the commentary informative. Our bus was the one decorated with the Mountie and dog-sled - the best of them all.

We learn that the ice is as thick beneath our feet as the Eiffel Tower is tall, a daunting thought. It's sunny so there is some melt water - turquoise of course. The mountains are still high around us and the ice of the Athabasca Glacier towers high above us. The glare is powerful, sunglasses are essential. We crunch about for a bit, take photographs of each other, feel the heat of the sun and the cold of the ice.Athabasca Glacier

It's interesting to track the movement of the glacier by the moraine left at its sides and at its base. The rocks vary from great boulders to gravel and it is possible to use the hillocks formed by this to track time and weather.

The scale of the icefield and glaciers make you consider yourself and your significance in the world - minute for most of us. What impressions do we leave on the places we visit in comparison to the ice? We are short-lived and tiny, but we are so lucky to have the capacity to appreciate the wonder of our surroundings.

Jane Grenfell , May 2000

Copyright © FAIRGREN 2000

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